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Rising European Grapplers 2018

Rising European Grapplers 2018

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As we have done over the past few years, and as the 2018 reaches its terminus, BJJ Heroes returns to its tradition of raising attention to a handful of European athletes from the lower belt divisions whom we believe have the potential to reach the top of the BJJ ladder in the next few years.

The sport has continuously grown all across the globe, and this year brought forward yet another strong body of young grapplers from the old continent who tested themselves in the worldwide circuit with fantastic results and forward moving jiu-jitsu. With this article, we showcase 5 up and coming competitors who stood out the most to us this year. Young men and women who will likely have an impact in BJJ’s landscape in the not too distant future. So without further ado…

ANJA BERGO (Frontline Academy)
Country: Norway / Rank: Purple / Division: Feather

– IBJJF European Open Champion (2018)
– IBJJF European NoGi Champion (2017)
– IBJJF American Nationals NoGi Champion (2017)
– IBJJF World Championship 2nd Place (2018)
– IBJJF New York Spring Open Champion (2018)
– IBJJF London Open Champion (2018 weight + absolute)

First on the list is 22year old, Norwegian grappler Anja Bergo, a student of Eduardo Rios, one of the most popular jiu-jitsu figures in Scandinavia. Much like her coach, Bergo has a well-rounded game and fantastic mental fortitude, weapons she has combined with her long frame and used to her advantage in quite a few high profile events, during her purple belt career.

JUNIOR FERNANDES (Fight Zone London – Checkmat)
Country: Portugal / Rank: Blue / Division: Light

– UAEJJF Grand Slam LA Champion (2018)
– UAEJJF Grand Slam London Champion (2017)
– IBJJF British National Champion (2017 weight + absolute)
– IBJJF Long Beach Open Champion (2018)
– IBJJF London Open Champion (2018 weight + absolute)
– UKBJJA British Open Champion (2017)
– IBJJF European Open 3rd Place (2017)

Fernandes turned 18 years old last July but has been challenging the adults for a while, and being extremely successful at it. A flexible guard player with strong passing skills, Junior is part of a school that is causing havoc in the UK circuit: Fight Zone London, led by coach Marco Canha. From this gym, a dream team of teens has emerged with names such as Anabel Lopez Beard, Isa Rahman, Rodrigo Mariani, Brian Schaper, the Lima brothers and more.

ANTON SELEZNEV (Team Strela)
Country: Russia / Rank: Brown / Division: Ultra-Heavy

– ACBJJ World Champion (2018 brown belt)
– IBJJF European Open 2nd Place (2018 brown belt)
– UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro Champion (2017 purple belt)
– UWW Grappling World Champion (2016 purple belt)
– UWW Grappling World NoGi Champion (2016 purple belt)
– IBJJF European Open Champion (2015 purple belt)
– IBJJF European Open Champion (2015 purple belt)
– IBJJF European Open Champion (2014 blue belt)

Moscow’s own Anton Seleznev has been terrorizing the European ultra-heavyweight scene since his blue belt days, having improved with each passing year. A very physical grappler, Seleznev has great movement for a big man and a deceptively large gas tank. Anton has strong judo type throws but has also been seen playing the bottom game. He competes with the gi, no-gi, judo rules and more, a very well rounded athlete and a big promise for Russian BJJ.

BILAL BENMAHAMMED (Cicero Costha)
Country: France / Rank: Brown / Division: Light

– IBJJF European Open Champion (2018 purple belt)
– ACBJJ European Open Champion (2018 purple belt)
– UAEJJF Grand Slam Abu Dhabi Champion (2018 purple belt)
– UAEJJF Grand Slam London Champion (2018 purple belt)
– IBJJF World Championship 3rd Place (2018 purple belt)

Benhammamed’s Instagram page reads “Eye on Bilal”, and indeed we advise you to keep your eyes on this young man. If you follow Benhammamed’s career, you know he is all about the challenge, competing for everything and anything that will test his capabilities, often going up several weight classes to find his purpose. These are great characteristics to have in the lower belt divisions, where piling up minutes of high-level competition will reap the most benefits in the long-term goal of one day being a black belt elite athlete. Bilal has the talent and the attitude, if all goes right, he will be one of the world’s top athletes.

ELINA MOESTAM (Checkmat/Prana)
Country: Sweden / Rank: Purple / Division: Light-feather

– UAEJJF World Pro Champion (2018/2017)
– IBJJF European Open Champion (2018)
– UAEJJF Grand Slam Tokyo Champion (2018)
– UAEJJF Grand Slam London Champion (2018)
– Swedish Open Champion (2018 weight + absolute)

A very crafty spider guard player with a natural instinct for the triangle, Elina has successfully followed the style of her BJJ mentor, Mr. Max Lindblad, naturally adding a few sprinkles of her own creativity to her game. Moestam’s 2018 purple belt run was nothing short of outstanding, with wins in some of our sport’s biggest tournaments. This was her second year at purple belt, and we look forward to seeing her progression in the upcoming years.

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